CHICAGO — A string of armed robberies in Chicago involving postal workers has captured the attention of union representatives and Sen. Dick Durbin. Both sides say significant measures are needed to help increase mail carriers’ safety.
The latest incident occurred in broad daylight when two people approached a postal worker in the 2500 block of North Ashland Ave., in Lincoln Park, on Jan. 11 and robbed him at gunpoint.
The news is alarming, says Lincoln Park resident Alex Heffner-Kazlauskas.
“It’s sad that it’s happening to anybody, let alone postal workers,” Heffner-Kazlauskas said.
Fellow Lincoln Park resident Samantha, who did not wish to give her last name, told WGN News she experienced firsthand the work letter carriers do to deliver mail.
“I think it’s scary and unfortunate. You can’t even get your mail anymore without it being an issue,” she said. “Last night, I noticed we didn’t have any mail come during the day and someone rang my doorbell, and it was the mailman. They hid my [packages] in the bushes for me.”
In Wednesday’s incident, the armed suspects fled in a dark-colored Kia sedan with tinted windows.
Sen. Durbin said it is “absolutely unacceptable that letter carriers, working for the U.S. Postal Service are being attacked while they’re in the neighborhoods in the city of Chicago.”
Wednesday’s robbery was the fourth incident in the last two weeks.
Police say last Thursday, two robberies occurred on the city’s South Side at 117th and Halsted and 117th and Stewart. Another robbery on 107th and Lasalle Street followed.
“I contacted Elise Foster, who is president of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Chicago, and I promised her we would reach out first to the postmaster general and then to the Chicago Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Department to find the necessary things to do to make sure that these people will be safe in the discharge of their duties,” Durbin said.
Amid a rise in the number of incidents, a representative with the National Association of Letter Carriers told WGN News they are working with City Council on an ordinance requiring outdoor mail collection boxes to be moved inside and allow for door-to-door delivery.
The association will also seek additional postal police, a move Lincoln Park resident Tara Hagerty called “disheartening.”
A reward of up to $50,000 is offered for any information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.